Sunday Shoutout: Four Things for Better Runs and Workouts

Happy Sunday and Father’s Day! I celebrated yesterday with my husband (who is an awesome dad to our three teen boys) by heading up to Dallas to run a Spartan Race at Jerry’s World, aka the AT&T Stadium, Home of the Dallas Cowboys.

jennifer fisher spartan stadium

Strip Steaks with Globally Inspired Wet RubsMaking a special dinner for my own top pop tonight,  a super guy who’s been an amazing father to me for the past nearly 49 years! Since he loves to travel the world and experience new flavors in food just as much as me, I’m thinking grilling steaks with one of my globally inspired wet rubs!

 

 

Today, I want share with you some of the healthy foods and fitness gear I’ve tried out lately that have passed my persnickity test of approval!

1) Tommie Copper Compression: First up, some new products from Tommie Copper, a line of active and recovery compression wear that I’ve been wearing for a couple years now.  Tommie Copper clothing encourages muscle and joint recovery through compression after a hard workout – they also have performance apparel that is perfect for wearing during running and workouts.

Tommie Copper Compression Camisole

The unique hook of Tommie Cooper is that their compression and active fit (not so tight) lines of performance apparel are fashioned from fabric infused with high density activated copper. Not only does the proprietary copper fabric serve as an anti-bacterial agent, it also releases ions which may help reduce harmful oxidants in the body.

I love LOVE the Women’s Compression Camisole with Adjustable Straps for so many reasons – the vibrant color (other colors available), the hugging fit, and option to make the straps longer or shorter (for some reason, I always need to make mine shorter).

Tommie Copper Shaping CapriI also tried out a pair of Women’s Shaping Compression Capris designed to provide comfortable compression with a flattering fit. In other words, you butt will look as good as it feels! A curved back yoke lifts and shapes to enhance curves with the contoured waistband holds the tummy in without making a muffin top or feeling squeezed.

Actually, today only you can take 25% off your order at TommieCopper.com with the code FATHERSDAY at checkout.

 

2) The Pickle Juice Company: Also, I want to shout out The Pickle Juice ® Company, y’all saved my husband (aka “the sweater”) yesterday at the Spartan Race.  He gets muscle cramps, even in shorter distances of running, so I knew that the 4 miles (of basically all stair running) was going to set him up for some debilitating cramps, especially since was super hot in Dallas yesterday.

Pickle Juice Shot from The Pickle Juice Company

So, I made him drink a specifically formulated the Extra Strength Pickle Juice Shot before he started – and guess what, no muscle cramps were reported. This interesting product is based on the functional properties of pickle brine that have been shown to help relieve muscle cramps while also serving as a hydration aid. Each Extra Strength Pickle Juice Shot contains 10 times more electrolytes than your average sports drink and has been proven to relieve muscle cramps in 85 seconds. We are both going to be carrying a little bottle along on an upcoming summer trail race!

This product is available at many sports and grocery retailers, or you can get a “dill” at Amazon  — you gotta getcha some Extra Strength Pickle Juice Shots!

3) Simply Snackin: I appreciate how Simply Snackin makes it easy for me to play hard and snack often (in my preferred higher protein way) with their insanely yummy line of meat-based snacks. Think “jerky” but waaaaay better than the stuff I grew up with as a kid. I’ve enjoyed Simply Snackin’ bars for quite some time now, and they never fail to impress me with their high-quality and amazing array of flavors.

Simply Snackin meat and fruit  snacks

These jerky bars from Simply Snackin are crafted in family-owned micro-snackery with a focus on taste that also supports a health, fitness and wellness. There are 10 amazing flavors, the snacks are all natural, gluten free, low carb, tender and lean, minimally process and packaged to go in individual 1-oz. portions.

It’s sooooooo hard to decide, but I think my favorite flavors are Northwoods Beef with Cranberries & Blueberries, Italiano Chicken with Romano Cheese and Orchard Venison with Apples Every bar has only 60 calories and 10 to 11 grams of protein and 0 to 3 grams of sugar (natural sugar depending on if fruit has been mixed in).

You can order straight from theSimply Snackin or get hooked up at Amazon.com Simply Snackin All Natural Chicken,  Simply Snack All Natural Beef,  Simply Snackn All Natural Venison.

  

4) Zooma Summer Challenge: Also, the Zooma Summer Challenge kicks off June 27th. This is a great way to expand your workout horizons, experiment with new foods and activities, and get your body and mind strong to prepare for fall race training. For the $50 registration fee you get: a workout and food plan for the 5-week program, weekly emails that explain that week’s workout and food challenge, access to a private Facebook group where you can share your successes and questions with fellow Challengers, fun swag including a tank top and beach bag and a bling-y medal to commemorate your summer fitness success. Register HERE!

Zooma Summer Challenge 2016

So, what new health and fitness products have you been loving lately? What races are you training for? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

Running and Fitness 2015 – My Highlights, My Bloopers, My Gear 

The Events: To the best of my memory, I raced eight 5ks, one 5-miler, one 10k, four half marathons, one marathon and two obstacle course Spartan Races (the Sprint and Beast).   I also competed in the CrossFit Games Open, Austin Fittest Challenge, the Zilker Relays and a CrossFit event called “Sprint & Snatch.”   Loved them all!

Most Unexpected Race Win:  In October, I was the first OVERALL winner of the Hill Country Half Marathon in Marble Falls, Texas. Granted, the field wasn’t Rock ‘n Roll marathon kind of huge, but that being said, I beat all the women and the MEN with my scrawny legs — the hills were some of the worst I’ve ever seen (not kidding, one went upward for at least half a mile).Jennifer Fisher winner 2015 Hill Country Half Marathon

Craziest Conditions in a Race: The Spartan Beast Dallas was not what I was planning for, it was crazy! With a half marathon being in my wheelhouse, I expected to nail this Spartan Beast Dallas Sand Bag Carryrace — but unforeseen Texas flooding delayed the start for hours and created a running situation in ankle deep mud the entire distance. I was sore the next day in some pretty weird places!  Although hoping to do better, I managed to pull off a 2nd place podium finish in the Elite Master division (and it was only my 2nd Spartan, and first “beast”).

Most Unusual Prize Won in a 2015 Race: A $250 gift card for a tattoo! I am no saying if, when and where I used it! :-)

Best Pre and Post Race Festivities at a Race:  Hosted by Health and Cooking Light magazines, The Fit Foodie Run in Austin (but also in Fairfax, Chicago and San Diego) proves that a healthy lifestyle can mesh with culinary enthusiasm!  The weekend is packed with celebrity chef tasting, food and fitness interactive demos, yoga sessions, and yoga boot camps – there is so much food! Plus, the goodies and samples you get to take home from the after run are some serious healthy nom-noms – bring a big bag!

Best Running & Fitness Moments on Instagram: Of course, I blew up my @thefitfork profile with photos of my favorite yoga poses and running with friends!

Favorite Women-centric Race: I’ve been an ambassador for Zooma Race Series for 4 or 5 years now and have run that hilly Austin-area half marathon and said – “never again” at the finish line. But, after I catch my breath a few minutes later, I’m like Jennifer Fisher at Zooma Texas 2014“awesome, that was the best race ever despite the course challenges.” The Austin race is now defunct, but the other fabulous locations across the country beckon for a mini-vacation! Created and run by women, this race focuses on females supporting each other, no matter age, ability or life situation – and the weekends make great girlfriend getaways!  My mom and I have made a tradition of it! Even though I’ve been in a role to mentor and support the runners, I can’t tell you how much more energy and inspiration I’ve received from them – always so happy to see those smiles and high-fives at the half-marathon turnaround.

Favorite Yoga Pose:  Always the Crow or some variation! Hopefully this time next year, my hamstrings and back will be more bendy and stretchy so my Instagram profile can be more well-rounded! Jennifer Fisher TheFitFork.com Yoga Crow Pose

Running / Workout Injuries: Thankfully, nothing serious this year – eg. no stitches, concussions or pulled rib muscles like last year! Only falling off a box doing the Murph CrossFit WOD and spraining ankle, numerous palm tears, one lost toenail . . . looking for some wood to knock on!   Despite the healthy year for me, I did write a helpful post on 4 Ways Sports Injuries Build Better Athletes that will keep all of us focused on end goals.

Weirdest Workout Moment: It would have to be working out with watermelons for the second summer in a row on my #LivingOnTheWedge blog series!  I CrossFitted with watermelon, ran with watermelon, and even worked out in the swimming pool with a watermelon! Oh, you don’t want to miss that watermelon pool workout video – please make sure you are wearing Depends. On behalf of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, I will be taking the show on the road at IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo in L.A. in July 2016. Summer Squat Challenge -- Do 100 squats per day from this mix an match list!

Best Blooper(s):  Oh, there are a lot of bloopers and outakes, my phone is filled with them!  Practicing on the parallettes is cause for crashing on my face or rear, but still it’s fun.  There are also some awkward moments coming out of a handstand in a walkover when my old back decides “no” midway through! 

More Bloopers: Because research shows you live longer if you laugh. Yoga and Fitness Bloopers from TheFitFork.com

Favorite Running and Workout Gear / Fuel:  Vim & Vigr Compression Socks (super functional , fashionable and fun  in a variety of stripes, polka dots and fun patterns), Altra Running Shoes (I love the super lightweight, zero-drop “The Ones” ) and Nuun for my hydration needs  — I’m digging their  fairly new product called PLUS for Nunn. Unlike regular Nuun that is virtually calorie free (there are a few, but under 10), PLUS provides a boost with fast absorbing performance carbohydrates that keep me hydrated and provide quickly sourced energy for demanding endurance events.  Also, I still love my bottle of Core Power High Protein Shake in Chocolate Lite Flavor for 20g of quality protein to help my muscles recover right after a long run or intense workout. My Running and Workout Must Haves

I’m also really appreciating mobility gear from ACUMOBILITY – a great company that I connected with this year at The Running Event that not only makes rollers and other mobility products, but also assesses, corrects and unifies movement to reduce injuries and unlock improved performance.   Stay tuned because I will be having an awesome giveaway at the beginning of January! And, for “on the go” rolling, I really love The Original Worm (based right here in Austin).

Most Used Mantra: When times get tough in a race, I break out the “If you can take it, you can make it” line from Unbroken. Or, when I try to get too controlling about stuff  –  “Where are you?  Here. What time is it? Now. What are you? This moment.” – from Dan Millman’s book , “The Way of the Peaceable Warrior”  Both books are so inspirational — read them!

Favorite Kettle Bell Workout:

20 Minute Kettle Bell Blaster

My Best Way to Stay Motivated: When I start to feel burned out, I take an active fun day! And, always more crazy with my friend Valerie (by the way, she’s an internationally known running coach, not kidding — check her out at @runrx ) 

What are your fitness favorites from 2015?! Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

Benefits of Running & Music | Get 1 Free Month RockMyRun Rockstar + Giveaway

WANT ONE FREE MONTH OF ROCKMYRUN PREMIUM ROCKSTAR, NO STRINGS ATTATCHED? KEEP READING . . . (btw, this post and giveaway sponsored by RockMyRun.com

Jennifer Fisher at Zooma Texas Half Marathon

Crushing a challenging Texas Hill Country race (Zooma Texas Half Marathon) with the help of music. Music for the win!

Should you run and workout listening to music, or not? I’ve blogged on the topic before (here), so no need to rehash every little detail. In my opinion, if music provides some motivation to get up off the couch and is used safely (be aware of traffic, stranger danger, and hearing loss if too loud), then by all means hit the play button and boogie on. I wear headphones on the treadmill and in many longer races, perhaps half of the time while running my neighborhood – but rarely in a shorter races or speed workouts on the track. In these cases, I like to focus all my senses on the feedback I’m getting from my body – it just seems like music gets in the way.  Oh, and never with a friend – there is just too much catching up to do!

One Free Month RockMyRun.com Premium Rockstar Membership

I do love music, but must have a short attention span. One thing I’ve noticed is that I get bored with my music library very quickly — ugh, and then it’s just the same old songs wearing me down. So needless to say, I was excited to try out Rock My Run, a free, top rated fitness music smartphone app available for iOS and Android. RockMyRun creates high energy, motivational mixes that are designed by DJ’s specifically for exercise – right now, I’m listening to the Super Twerk Mix (don’t laugh) that has a two hour play list of hip-hop specifically mixed to keep 200 beats per minute (bpm). I like the faster mixes that are 180 to 200 bpm because that’s the same number I like to keep per minute for foot strikes during tempo runs, speed work and races.

Rock My Run Giveaway - TheFitFork.com

If you use the RockMyRun app on your iPhone or Android, check out the myBeat™ Body Driven Music feature. Proprietary algorithms read your steps per minute, heart rate and soon pace to adjust and deliver content (music tempo – BPM) in real time to match, motivate or calm you at just the right moment. MIND BLOWN! You can also able to manually change the BPM of the mixes on RockMyRun to help them achieve a personal goal.

RockMyRun creates lots of other high energy, motivational mixes that are designed by DJ’s specifically for exercise. Use of the app has recently been proven to increase the enjoyment of the running experience by up to 35 percent compared to static playlists or no music.  Other studies have shown that running with music can increase your performance by 15 percent —  the USTFA lifted their strict sanctions against headphone use in 2008 and left the decision in the hands of individual race directors. However, headphones remain banned for any athlete competing in a USA Championship — no music doping, you must suffer in silence!

Music and Exercise Infographic - TheFitFork.com

Click infographic to find out other interesting info about music and exercise.

It’s superfast and easy to download the Rock My Run app on your iPhone or android, create an account and start downloading mixes through WiFi. If you don’t want to hear ads while streaming music, you can sign up for RockMyRun Rockstar (premium) memberships for as little as $35.99 per year or $4.99 going month to month – you are even allowed to download a limited amount of mixes to a personal music player – that’s how I’ve been listening on the Wifi-less trails. I also really appreciate how clean lyric mixes are available, because who really wants to explain Truffle Butter to their kids?! To get you started, Rock My Run is offering ALL MY READERS a code that will get you ONE FREE MONTH OF ROCKMYRUN PREMIUM ROCKSTAR – just enter RMRBJ at RockMyRun.com, download the app onto your phone and get rockin’!

fit 2.0 jlabI am also giving away one GRAND PRIZE —  an entire YEAR of RockMyRun Rockstar plus a pair of JLab Audio’s Fit 2.0 Sport Earbuds.  Whoohoo, take advantage of the one free month and enter to win the full year and headphones in the Rafflecopter app below:

 

rock my run logo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Why You Should Workout with Your Sweetie + Partner WOD

Benefits of Working Out Together - TheFitFork.com

Most people don’t equate Valentine’s Day with working out, but maybe they should! Breaking a sweat with your sweetie is not only a fun “date” and good for your health, it also boasts bunch of benefits that will keep any relationship fit and strong.   Here are the three most compelling reasons, in my opinion, why couples who sweat together, stay together.

Soulmates make the best ‘swolemates’. Opposites often attract and even similar-personality partners may not have many interests which overlap. However, exercising together is an activitity that can help every couple connect — it creates accountability, increases synchronicity, and promotes a shared passion. One study (Aron, Norman, Aron, & Heyman, 2000) suggests that couples who participated together in an exciting and challenging physical activity reported a higher level of love and relationship satisfaction.

More fun, less stress.  The never-ending responsibilities of adulthood can take a toll.  Instead of coping with worry, anxiety and conflict in an unhealthy manner, exercising is a positive way to shed life’s irritations . . . and maybe even a few unwanted inches. And, when you hit the gym, tackle the running trails, or go zen in a yoga class with your spouse or significant other, it’s like a date – and that’s fun!

Ooh, la, la endorphins and other hormones! The racing pulse, shortness of breath and sweatiness that comes from a good workout sounds a lot like the symptoms of romantic attraction! Researchers (Dutton & Aron, 1974) say that people can easily mistake the two – so if you’re feeling hot and bothered at the gym, this is why!

Here’s a partner workout you can try with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day – or any other day of the year!

Heart Pumping Partner Workout - TheFitFork.com

zooma buttonI also want to give a shout out the Zooma Women’s Race Series again – I’m back in my 4th year as an ambassador for this very fun and empowering race targeted to women. While there is a lot o she-power going on at Zooma, MEN are not excluded – in fact, they are welcomed! I especially love it when I see a couple running side by side, one giving encouragement to the other! So, round up your most loved running partner and enter the upcoming Texas race on March 28, 2015.  Pick from the half-marathon, 10k or 5k and don’t forget to toast each other afterward with complementary wine and bubbly at the finish line!  Register for the Texas race HERE and use discount code JENNIFER15 or 10% off any distance.

Here’s another fitness shout out – this time for Tommie Copper, a line of stylish yet functional compression wear that supports muscles for improved performance, recovery and relief. Look at some of these cute items I’ve been wearing to the gym and on my runs – and Tommie Copper has just as much gear for the guys! Right now a huge Presidents’ Day Sale is going off and you can save up to $40 on your order along with free shipping – check it outtommie copper jennifer fisher

Michele's Granola BarsReady to share a post-workout snack together? Well, if I was picking, I’d split a Core Power High Protein Shake with my hubby and one of these delish granola bars from Michele’s Granola. Made from scratch in small batches, these healthy treats are packaged 10 bars (assorted flavors) to a pack and can be ordered from Michele’s Granola web store. Ooh, the Cherry Chocolate is my favorite.

Disclaimer: I was provided product or sponsorship in return or my review and promotion of these products. However, all opinions are my own.

6 Soups for Runners + Spartan Race #Giveaway

Even though I’ve been running and working out in the beautiful warm weather that’s been gracing Austin for the last several days, the chill of winter is expected to return over weekend – it’s my guess that Jack Frost is moseying over from the Snowpocolypse on the East coast. Although, we won’t get mountains of snow (actually, not even a freeze at all), this cold-weather wimp will be tempted to stay under the blankets and skip even her civilized late-morning run.   That is, unless I know I have soup waiting for lunch!

Soups and Stews for Runners - TheFitFork.com

After a long run in cold weather, nothing warms up my body and nourishes my soul more than a big bowl of soup.  Who wants to think about making a complicated meal when road weary, starving and chilled to the bone? That’s why I like to have a big batch of homemade soup waiting in the slow cooker or ready to simmer on the stovetop the minute I walk in the door.  Warmth and convenience aren’t the only reason why soup is great for runners — soup is also an easy, one-dish recovery meal that features the right mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healing vitamins and minerals. Eating soup after a workout refuels your tank with healthy food and the extra liquid helps restore hydration!  I’m sharing six soup and stew recipes that are in constant rotation at my house during the cold-weather running seasons — each is easy to make and tastes just as good (if not better) as leftovers.

  1. Wilted Greens, Beans & Beef Meatball Stew
  2. Black Bean & Pumpkin Soup
  3. Chipotle Squash & Chickpea Soup
  4. Southwestern Sweet Potato Soup
  5. Hatch Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Soup
  6. Lightened Yet Still  “Loaded” Baked Potato Soup
This is my favorite race photo ever - Zooma Half Marathon 2013 -

This is my favorite race photo ever – Zooma Half Marathon 2013 – I WON! !

Now that one of my favorite races (3M Half Marathon) has come and gone for the year, I can focus on my upcoming events. Of course, there is the Capitol 10k later this spring (I’m going to try to peak for this one) and the Zooma Women’s Race Series in Austin on March 28th – I’m a Zooma Ambassador again for the 4th year and will be running the half marathon – they also offer a 10k and 5k. This is a fun and supportive race for women of all abilities (and men, you’re invited too) – afterward there is just an awesome party with lots of Texas Hill Country hospitality, including music, wine and massages. Come out and join me – use the discount code JENNIFER15 at registration and get 10% off the fee for any race distance.

Core Power Workout

Oh, and did I tell you that I’m running the Spartan Race in a few months when it comes to Austin. It’s a good thing that the Spartan is in May and it won’t be cold — no soup required afterward, but maybe a cold beer! I better start practicing my obstacles ASAP! Check out the workout —>

Spartan has a ton of stuff going on right now including a newly launched podcast that shares epic stories of success – ‘Spartan Up!’  If you are totally into obstacle racing, you can get hooked up with a Spartan Season Pass that offers unlimited racing, ability to sign up in any heat including elite, special travel discounts and more. And, you literally don’t want to miss the boat on this one —  a Spartan Cruise where sand, surf and obstacles await your arrival on an exclusive island sprint course – leave from Miami and race in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas (March 6 – 9, 2015) Use code CRUISE50 at registration for 50% off the cruise fee!

spartan womenDon’t miss out on my Spartan Race Entry Giveaway – one winner will receive a registration code good for any any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Spartan Race in the continental US.  Enter through the rafflecopter app below. If you can’t wait to win, use code SPARTANBLOGGER for 10% off of any race.spartan wall
a Rafflecopter giveaway

{Slow Cooker} Salted Caramel Chocolate Crunch Holiday Gift Recipe

Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Chocolate Crunch - TheFitFork.com

I would be thrilled if you would head over to Love Grown Food’s Facebook and/or Pinterest page and vote for my holiday recipe creation (by “liking” or pinning) – {Slow Cooker} Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Crunch! This scrumptious salty-sweet snack couldn’t be easier to make in the slow cooker . . . . yes, Crock Pot power! Just dump in everything but the chocolate and let it mingle and caramelize together while you tend to other holiday tasks like wrapping gifts, addressing cards and hauling out the holly. Chocolate chips are melted in at the end and then it just cools for a bit on parchment paper. By using Power O’s, a crunchy cereal made from a blend of beans that adds protein, I’m able to bring a little balance to this sweet snack mix.

If you don’t gobble up the entire recipe at once, this Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Crunch makes a nice addition to any holiday party snack lineup or can be packaged up in jars with pretty ribbon for gift-giving.  Remember to go vote through the Facebook or Pinterest links, it’s really easy.  Thank you.

Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Chocolate Crunch - TheFitFork.com

Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Crunch Recipe

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups “O’s” cereal like Cheerios or Love Grown Power O’s
  • 2 cups mini pretzels
  • 2 cups oyster crackers
  • 2 cups toasted almonds
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

1. Melt butter in a saucepan.
2. Stir in sugar and vanilla until well blended.
3. In a large slow cooker, combine cereal, pretzels, almonds and crackers. Pour in melted butter mixture and stir to coat.
4. Cook on high for 2-3 hours with the LID OFF, stirring occasionally. Mixture will be done when sugar caramelizes to create a glaze over ingredients. Please keep an eye on ingredients, as slow  cooker temperatures can vary from model to model or with age of the appliance.
5. Turn heat to low and stir in chocolate chips. Put lid on slow cooker and let chocolate soften for about 5 minutes.
6. Remove lid and stir mixture to distribute melted chocolate.
7. Spread mixture on parchment paper and immediately sprinkle with coarse sea salt. After mixture has cooled and hardened, store in an airtight container.

Makes about 10 to 12 cups.

Friday 5 |So Many #ShoutOuts it’s Scary + Running Giveaway!

Boo, it’s Halloween! I don’t do this very often, but I wanted to share with you some of the products and events I whole-heartedly stand behind. Actually, I have so many, that I’ll shout out another five next Friday. Don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom of the post for a Spartan entry, two tubes of Nuun, and a pair of Altra running socks.

1) Core Power:  For years, I’ve been a big fan of this product and remember way back when it was called Athlete’s Honey Milk.

Jennifer Fisher Core PowerNow these high protein shakes are big time popular, so I’m super honored to be one of their athletes . . . plus, you’ve probably noticed I do a lot of workouts and recipes for their social media.   I like to stash a bottle in my gym bag for the perfect amount of protein recovery after a long run or intense workout. The six yummy flavors are also the base ingredient for many of my crazy delicious smoothie recipes – like the Vampire Slayer Protein Smoothie I whipped up for Halloween.

Vampire Slayer Protein Smoothie  Recipe

Vampire Slayer Smoothie

Core Power Vampire Slayer Protein Smoothie

  •   1 (11-ounce) Strawberry-banana Core Power
  • 1 cup frozen berry blend
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • Ice, as needed

Place all ingredients in blend and blend until smooth. Serves 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Zooma Women’s Race Series: This is my 4th year to be a Texas Ambassador for this female-focused running event that takes place in fun destination locations like Austin, Napa, Cape Cod and others.

Jennifer Fisher at Zooma Texas 2014The Austin race is on Saturday March 28, 2015 at the Hill Country Hyatt Resort – a gorgeous, gorgeous place to run a race. The bluebonnets and other flowers are blooming this time of year and this welcomed distraction of Mother Nature has always made the hills seem less painful! The main race is a half marathon, but there is also a 10k and 5k and everyone is encouraged to run, laugh and celebrate. Oh, and did I mention the massages, wine and pretty necklace-style finisher’s medal to be enjoy afterward.  Register using code JENNIFER15 and get 10% off any distance in the Texas lineup.

3) Spartan: I’ve never actually done a Spartan race but it’s been on my bucket list for a while.

Spartan - If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change youOne of the things that’s been holding me back is my own competitive nature – what if I don’t kill it, what if I don’t WIN (ha)? But, then I realized that’s totally the wrong attitude – if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you  — right?!  I’m going to be signing up the next time Spartan comes through Texas, meanwhile YOU can enter to win a free entry. Enter through the Rafflecopter app below, the winner will receive a registration code that will work for any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Spartan Race (check out the upcoming races) in the continental US.  You can also just go ahead and register now and get 10% off any race (Sprint, Super or Beast) in any US with the code: SPARTANBLOGGER

4) Nuun Hydration: This sugar-free electrolyte tablet that you plop into a bottle of water and it magically fizzes up, has saved my butt from dehydration many, many times.

Nuun Hood to Coast Team 2013I use Nuun on my long runs, marathons and even out when watching my kids play sports all day in the Texas sun (I put it in their water bottles too!)  They have a fairly new line, Nuun Energy, which combines the same optimal electrolyte blend with B vitamins and caffeine — yeah!  The products are awesome, but I also can’t say enough about the people who work at Nuun –as a lucky ambassador, Nuun has invited me twice to be one of their runners in the Hood to Coast Relay, and I got the royal treatment each time!

nuun bottles If you want to stock up on Nuun, use the code nuunbassadorfriend to get 20% off a one-time purchase (through the end of 2014).  Oh, what the heck, I’m going to throw two tubes of Nuun (my choice) into the giveaway below!

 

5) Altra Running –  I was first introduced to this line of “zero-drop” shoes several years ago when I was tweaking my running form with the Pose Method.

Altra TRE13 smallAs an ambassador for the brand, I’ve shared my testimonial on how these shoes have helped me as a mid-foot striker, improved my natural running form and saved my toenails from turning black and falling off! I’ve worn them in every distance from a 5k to 50 mile ultra. Currently, I’m wearing the Ones Squared, and loving the lightness with a touch of cushion!  They also make socks with a wider toe box and I’m giving away a pair of Women’s White No Show Sprint Socks

altra sock

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Anemia in Runners & Healthy Iron Rich Recipes

iron rich recipes thefitfork

It’s normal to feel tired after a long run or strenuous session in the gym, isn’t that the point?! However, if you notice increased fatigue, unexplainable muscle soreness or begin having trouble finishing workouts that were once part of your normal routine, the culprit could actually be an iron deficiency. One recent study suggested that more than half (56%) of recreational joggers and competitive runners suffer from an iron deficiency that may negatively affect performance.

jennifer fisher austin runner zooma

Iron topped off (thanks Team Beef) and running strong at Zooma Texas.

As a quickie science refresher, iron is needed to replenish the constant turnover of red blood cells (at the rate of 1% a day) and to keep this troop of tiny oxygen-deliverers adequately stocked with hemoglobin. Without oxygen moving from your lungs to every part of your body via the red blood cells, organs and tissues are not able to perform as they should, let alone at the optimal capacity demanded by the rigorous training schedule of an athlete.

So, why would a seemingly healthy person, especially an athlete, find themselves battling the malaise brought on by “tired” blood? Here are some obvious and not-so-obvious reasons for iron deficiency in long distance runners and other endurance athletes.

  • Diet: A diet that chronically avoids foods rich in iron may cause anemia, or at a minimum, lower than desired levels of iron. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, or iron-fortified foods are the best sources of iron found in food.
  • Vitamin Deficiency:  Vitamin B-12 and folate both play a role in red blood cell development and can cause anemia if levels are low. A diet without leafy greens, fruits and beans (for the folate) and animal products (for the b-12) can be to blame, as can autoimmune diseases and intestinal problems.
  • Disease and Drugs: Some people consume adequate iron through their diet, but have absorption issues due to diseases including Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease.  Certain drugs may also inhibit the absorption of iron. Consult with your doctor.
  • Pregnancy & Woman Issues: Anemia is fairly common during pregnancy; a woman needs to consume enough iron for herself and her unborn child to avoid becoming depleted. Additionally, heavy menstruation and uterine fibroids can also wear away stores.
  • Sweat: Because iron is a mineral that can be lost through sweat, athletes (especially in endurance events) can become depleted, especially those who perspire heavily and during the summer months.
  • GI Distress: The gastro-intestinal distress, or “runner trots” that affect many athletes during and after events can cause iron deficiency through lost blood. Many are not even aware of the blood loss, as it is eventually passed as waste.
  • Footstrike: Believe it or not, some research suggests that the repetitive and jarring impact of the foot to the ground during running can damage red blood cells in the foot. This “footstrike hemolysis” only reduces trace amounts of iron in the body at a single event, but can add up over time.

So what can be done to increase iron levels and fend off that feeling of fatigue? Depending on the severity, medical professionals would recommend taking supplements and increasing the consumption of iron-rich foods. If you suspect an iron deficiency, please visit with your doctor. In the meantime, be proactive by boosting the amount of iron in your diet with these foods:

foods high in iron

  • Red meat (beef, pork, liver)
  • Egg yolks
  • Dark, leafy greens (spinach, collards, kale)
  • Dried fruit (prunes, raisins, apricots)
  • Iron-enriched cereals and grains (read the labels)
  • Mollusks (oysters, clams, scallops)
  • Fish (tuna, cod, sardine)
  • Turkey or chicken giblets
  • Beans, lentils, chick peas and soybeans
  • Artichokes

Tips:

Combine with vitamin C. Iron absorption is increased when paired with foods loaded in vitamin C. Toss papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, oranges, kiwi, pineapple and even cauliflower into your iron-rich recipes; they are all very high in vitamin C.

Pair with protein. Protein helps release the iron contained in beans, so serve them with beef, chicken, tofu, or fish (for example, beef chili with kidney beans).

Cook in cast iron! Research has shown that the iron content of food prepared in cast-iron was 2 to 12 times higher than foods cooked in other types of pots.  Acidic, high-moisture foods (like spaghetti sauce) have the highest levels of desirable leached iron.

Keep iron and calcium apart: As much as possible, try to eat iron rich foods at a different time than calcium rich foods — calcium can inhibit the absorption. So, for example, don’t eat a steak and wash it down with a glass of milk. If you take supplements, do the calcium in the morning and the iron at night, or vice versa. Thank you to Runnng Hutch at Matters of Course for reminding me of this tip.

Iron-Rich Recipe Ideas:

Crock Pot Sugar Snap & Orange Beef

Orange Sugar Snap Pea Beef – You’ll never tire (literally) of this beef slow-cooker dinner thanks to the spicy citrus sauce and orange slices.

Blue Cheese artichoke spinach eggs

Artichoke Spinach & Blue Cheese Baked Eggs – Artichoke, spinach and egg yolks makes this breakfast the best!

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - farmers market beef veggie salad

Farmer’s Market Beef & Brown Rice Salad – High-iron beef unlocks even more iron in chickpeas, plus vitamin C veggies – it’s a three-way winner!

Simply green smoothie

Simple Green Smoothie – The spinach and hemp seed smoothie will kick up iron consumption for vegans and vegetarians.

What is your favorite iron-rich food? Have you ever been diagnosed as anemic?